Dallas Morgan is the director of Sightings released by High Octane Pictures, a film filled with a fun and enjoyable adventure in the realm of sci-fi with far less of horror elements.
Baron Craze: I enjoyed your film Sightings, it went in a different direction than I expected, how did you come up with the concept? How long did it take from the initial draft to finish film?
Dallas Morgan: I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for checking it out.
The tone of the movie was inspired by some of my favorite films such as “Signs” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, but the actual concept was initiated by a news clip I watched about a man in NC who claimed to have seen a Sasquatch. I was fascinated by him as a character, and have always enjoyed the world of cryptozoology.
I started writing the first draft in January of 2012, and the movie was released in the U.S. in November of 2017. So a little over five years total. It’s been a long journey — during that time my wife and I moved across the country, grew our family with two kids, and bought our first home. So we have a lot of great memories associated with the making of this movie.
BC: When you were writing the script did you have a clue of where and who was to star in the movie?
DM: My wife, Tahlia Morgan who plays the daughter in the family, produced the film with me. So from the beginning we knew she was going to play that role, which allowed me to write the character with her in mind.
The other role I had a specific actor in mind for was the surveillance expert, who was played by Dante Basco. I’ve been a fan of Dante since seeing him in “Hook” and some of his other films, so it was exciting when he agreed to come on board.
BC: Do you personally believe in the cryptozoology and UFOs?
DM: I’ve personally never had an experience. However, I’m convinced that all of the eye witness accounts we have of people seeing something can’t all be lies.
BC: With independent movies there often is not much time to rehearse how do you handle that negative and make it positive aspect for filming?
DM: There’s the rehearsal that is sometimes done with the cast before production begins, and then there’s the rehearsal you do on set before rolling cameras. In our case, we didn’t really have time or budget for either. Ha! What I did do is spend time with each actor either via phone or Skype and we talked through every page of the script. We discussed every line and moment to really get a grasp on what the performances should be. This was extremely valuable because I know we referenced those conversations during production.
BC: What movie hooked you on becoming a director and why the job of a director and not something else?
DM: Jurassic Park was a movie I saw as a kid that blew my mind. My brother and I rented “The Making of Jurassic Park” on VHS from Blockbuster as kids and that was the first time I saw people making a movie. That’s really what inspired me to be a filmmaker. As for directing, I guess that always struck me as the position of “storyteller”, which is what I wanted to be. Every crew position is important and vital for making a movie what it is, but I always felt like the director was the one casting the vision.
BC: What scene was the ideally the hardest to film? Was there a scene you wrote and realize you couldn’t film it the way you wrote it?
DM: It would be same scene for both of those questions … the entire night sequence when the whole team goes out in the woods to hunt the creature. We had that all scheduled to be done in one night, which was insane. And it turned out we couldn’t finish it in one night, so we had to pick up some of it at the end of another shoot day. Because of all of that, there were several beats, moments, and angles that I ultimately couldn’t get because we ran out of time. I ultimately feel like the sequence turned out pretty good in the final film, but it never really reached my initial vision and expectations for it.
BC: What’s the next project you’re working on? Anything lined up?
DM: I’m currently writing a story that deals with a unique take on time travel. The themes deal with human pain and suffering, but against the backdrop of a woman who discovers she may have the ability to travel through time. I’m excited about it.
BC: Thanks again to Dallas Morgan.
For more information on the film, please see my review of Sightings.